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The History of Don Quixote, Vol. II., Part 25 by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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Volume II.

Part 25.

by Miguel de Cervantes

Translated by John Ormsby



Many and great were the attentions shown to Don Quixote by the newly
married couple, who felt themselves under an obligation to him for coming
forward in defence of their cause; and they exalted his wisdom to the
same level with his courage, rating him as a Cid in arms, and a Cicero in
eloquence. Worthy Sancho enjoyed himself for three days at the expense of
the pair, from whom they learned that the sham wound was not a scheme
arranged with the fair Quiteria, but a device of Basilio's, who counted
on exactly the result they had seen; he confessed, it is true, that he
had confided his idea to some of his friends, so that at the proper time
they might aid him in his purpose and insure the success of the

"That," said Don Quixote, "is not and ought not to be called deception
which aims at virtuous ends;" and the marriage of lovers he maintained to
be a most excellent end, reminding them, however, that love has no
greater enemy than hunger and constant want; for love is all gaiety,
enjoyment, and happiness, especially when the lover is in the possession
of the object of his love, and poverty and want are the declared enemies
of all these; which he said to urge Senor Basilio to abandon the practice
of those accomplishments he was skilled in, for though they brought him
fame, they brought him no money, and apply himself to the acquisition of
wealth by legitimate industry, which will never fail those who are
prudent and persevering. The poor man who is a man of honour (if indeed a
poor man can be a man of honour) has a jewel when he has a fair wife, and
if she is taken from him, his honour is taken from him and slain. The
fair woman who is a woman of honour, and whose husband is poor, deserves
to be crowned with the laurels and crowns of victory and triumph. Beauty
by itself attracts the desires of all who behold it, and the royal eagles
and birds of towering flight stoop on it as on a dainty lure; but if
beauty be accompanied by want and penury, then the ravens and the kites
and other birds of prey assail it, and she who stands firm against such
attacks well deserves to be called the crown of her husband. "Remember, O
prudent Basilio," added Don Quixote, "it was the opinion of a certain
sage, I know not whom, that there was not more than one good woman in the
whole world; and his advice was that each one should think and believe
that this one good woman was his own wife, and in this way he would live
happy. I myself am not married, nor, so far, has it ever entered my
thoughts to be so; nevertheless I would venture to give advice to anyone
who might ask it, as to the mode in which he should seek a wife such as
he would be content to marry. The first thing I would recommend him,
would be to look to good name rather than to wealth, for a good woman
does not win a good name merely by being good, but by letting it be seen
that she is so, and open looseness and freedom do much more damage to a
woman's honour than secret depravity. If you take a good woman into your
house it will be an easy matter to keep her good, and even to make her
still better; but if you take a bad one you will find it hard work to
mend her, for it is no very easy matter to pass from one extreme to
another. I do not say it is impossible, but I look upon it as difficult."

Sancho, listening to all this, said to himself, "This master of mine,
when I say anything that has weight and substance, says I might take a
pulpit in hand, and go about the world preaching fine sermons; but I say
of him that, when he begins stringing maxims together and giving advice
not only might he take a pulpit in hand, but two on each finger, and go
into the market-places to his heart's content. Devil take you for a
knight-errant, what a lot of things you know! I used to think in my heart
that the only thing he knew was what belonged to his chivalry; but there
is nothing he won't have a finger in."

Sancho muttered this somewhat aloud, and his master overheard him, and
asked, "What art thou muttering there, Sancho?"

"I'm not saying anything or muttering anything," said Sancho; "I was only
saying to myself that I wish I had heard what your worship has said just
now before I married; perhaps I'd say now, 'The ox that's loose licks
himself well.'"

"Is thy Teresa so bad then, Sancho?"

"She is not very bad," replied Sancho; "but she is not very good; at
least she is not as good as I could wish."

"Thou dost wrong, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "to speak ill of thy wife;
for after all she is the mother of thy children." "We are quits,"
returned Sancho; "for she speaks ill of me whenever she takes it into her
head, especially when she is jealous; and Satan himself could not put up
with her then."

In fine, they remained three days with the newly married couple, by whom
they were entertained and treated like kings. Don Quixote begged the
fencing licentiate to find him a guide to show him the way to the cave of
Montesinos, as he had a great desire to enter it and see with his own
eyes if the wonderful tales that were told of it all over the country
were true. The licentiate said he would get him a cousin of his own, a
famous scholar, and one very much given to reading books of chivalry, who
would have great pleasure in conducting him to the mouth of the very
cave, and would show him the lakes of Ruidera, which were likewise famous
all over La Mancha, and even all over Spain; and he assured him he would
find him entertaining, for he was a youth who could write books good
enough to be printed and dedicated to princes. The cousin arrived at
last, leading an ass in foal, with a pack-saddle covered with a
parti-coloured carpet or sackcloth; Sancho saddled Rocinante, got Dapple
ready, and stocked his alforjas, along with which went those of the
cousin, likewise well filled; and so, commending themselves to God and
bidding farewell to all, they set out, taking the road for the famous
cave of Montesinos.

On the way Don Quixote asked the cousin of what sort and character his
pursuits, avocations, and studies were, to which he replied that he was
by profession a humanist, and that his pursuits and studies were making
books for the press, all of great utility and no less entertainment to
the nation. One was called "The Book of Liveries," in which he described
seven hundred and three liveries, with their colours, mottoes, and
ciphers, from which gentlemen of the court might pick and choose any they
fancied for festivals and revels, without having to go a-begging for them
from anyone, or puzzling their brains, as the saying is, to have them
appropriate to their objects and purposes; "for," said he, "I give the
jealous, the rejected, the forgotten, the absent, what will suit them,
and fit them without fail. I have another book, too, which I shall call
'Metamorphoses, or the Spanish Ovid,' one of rare and original invention,
for imitating Ovid in burlesque style, I show in it who the Giralda of
Seville and the Angel of the Magdalena were, what the sewer of
Vecinguerra at Cordova was, what the bulls of Guisando, the Sierra
Morena, the Leganitos and Lavapies fountains at Madrid, not forgetting
those of the Piojo, of the Cano Dorado, and of the Priora; and all with
their allegories, metaphors, and changes, so that they are amusing,
interesting, and instructive, all at once. Another book I have which I
call 'The Supplement to Polydore Vergil,' which treats of the invention
of things, and is a work of great erudition and research, for I establish
and elucidate elegantly some things of great importance which Polydore
omitted to mention. He forgot to tell us who was the first man in the
world that had a cold in his head, and who was the first to try
salivation for the French disease, but I give it accurately set forth,
and quote more than five-and-twenty authors in proof of it, so you may
perceive I have laboured to good purpose and that the book will be of
service to the whole world."

Sancho, who had been very attentive to the cousin's words, said to him,
"Tell me, senor--and God give you luck in printing your books-can you
tell me (for of course you know, as you know everything) who was the
first man that scratched his head? For to my thinking it must have been
our father Adam."

"So it must," replied the cousin; "for there is no doubt but Adam had a
head and hair; and being the first man in the world he would have
scratched himself sometimes."

"So I think," said Sancho; "but now tell me, who was the first tumbler in
the world?"

"Really, brother," answered the cousin, "I could not at this moment say
positively without having investigated it; I will look it up when I go
back to where I have my books, and will satisfy you the next time we
meet, for this will not be the last time."

"Look here, senor," said Sancho, "don't give yourself any trouble about
it, for I have just this minute hit upon what I asked you. The first
tumbler in the world, you must know, was Lucifer, when they cast or
pitched him out of heaven; for he came tumbling into the bottomless pit."

"You are right, friend," said the cousin; and said Don Quixote, "Sancho,
that question and answer are not thine own; thou hast heard them from
some one else."

"Hold your peace, senor," said Sancho; "faith, if I take to asking
questions and answering, I'll go on from this till to-morrow morning.
Nay! to ask foolish things and answer nonsense I needn't go looking for
help from my neighbours."

"Thou hast said more than thou art aware of, Sancho," said Don Quixote;
"for there are some who weary themselves out in learning and proving
things that, after they are known and proved, are not worth a farthing to
the understanding or memory."

In this and other pleasant conversation the day went by, and that night
they put up at a small hamlet whence it was not more than two leagues to
the cave of Montesinos, so the cousin told Don Quixote, adding, that if
he was bent upon entering it, it would be requisite for him to provide
himself with ropes, so that he might be tied and lowered into its depths.
Don Quixote said that even if it reached to the bottomless pit he meant
to see where it went to; so they bought about a hundred fathoms of rope,
and next day at two in the afternoon they arrived at the cave, the mouth
of which is spacious and wide, but full of thorn and wild-fig bushes and
brambles and briars, so thick and matted that they completely close it up
and cover it over.

On coming within sight of it the cousin, Sancho, and Don Quixote
dismounted, and the first two immediately tied the latter very firmly
with the ropes, and as they were girding and swathing him Sancho said to
him, "Mind what you are about, master mine; don't go burying yourself
alive, or putting yourself where you'll be like a bottle put to cool in a
well; it's no affair or business of your worship's to become the explorer
of this, which must be worse than a Moorish dungeon."

"Tie me and hold thy peace," said Don Quixote, "for an emprise like this,
friend Sancho, was reserved for me;" and said the guide, "I beg of you,
Senor Don Quixote, to observe carefully and examine with a hundred eyes
everything that is within there; perhaps there may be some things for me
to put into my book of 'Transformations.'"

"The drum is in hands that will know how to beat it well enough," said
Sancho Panza.

When he had said this and finished the tying (which was not over the
armour but only over the doublet) Don Quixote observed, "It was careless
of us not to have provided ourselves with a small cattle-bell to be tied
on the rope close to me, the sound of which would show that I was still
descending and alive; but as that is out of the question now, in God's
hand be it to guide me;" and forthwith he fell on his knees and in a low
voice offered up a prayer to heaven, imploring God to aid him and grant
him success in this to all appearance perilous and untried adventure, and
then exclaimed aloud, "O mistress of my actions and movements,
illustrious and peerless Dulcinea del Toboso, if so be the prayers and
supplications of this fortunate lover can reach thy ears, by thy
incomparable beauty I entreat thee to listen to them, for they but ask
thee not to refuse me thy favour and protection now that I stand in such
need of them. I am about to precipitate, to sink, to plunge myself into
the abyss that is here before me, only to let the world know that while
thou dost favour me there is no impossibility I will not attempt and
accomplish." With these words he approached the cavern, and perceived
that it was impossible to let himself down or effect an entrance except
by sheer force or cleaving a passage; so drawing his sword he began to
demolish and cut away the brambles at the mouth of the cave, at the noise
of which a vast multitude of crows and choughs flew out of it so thick
and so fast that they knocked Don Quixote down; and if he had been as
much of a believer in augury as he was a Catholic Christian he would have
taken it as a bad omen and declined to bury himself in such a place. He
got up, however, and as there came no more crows, or night-birds like the
bats that flew out at the same time with the crows, the cousin and Sancho
giving him rope, he lowered himself into the depths of the dread cavern;
and as he entered it Sancho sent his blessing after him, making a
thousand crosses over him and saying, "God, and the Pena de Francia, and
the Trinity of Gaeta guide thee, flower and cream of knights-errant.
There thou goest, thou dare-devil of the earth, heart of steel, arm of
brass; once more, God guide thee and send thee back safe, sound, and
unhurt to the light of this world thou art leaving to bury thyself in the
darkness thou art seeking there;" and the cousin offered up almost the
same prayers and supplications.

Don Quixote kept calling to them to give him rope and more rope, and they
gave it out little by little, and by the time the calls, which came out
of the cave as out of a pipe, ceased to be heard they had let down the
hundred fathoms of rope. They were inclined to pull Don Quixote up again,
as they could give him no more rope; however, they waited about half an
hour, at the end of which time they began to gather in the rope again
with great ease and without feeling any weight, which made them fancy Don
Quixote was remaining below; and persuaded that it was so, Sancho wept
bitterly, and hauled away in great haste in order to settle the question.
When, however, they had come to, as it seemed, rather more than eighty
fathoms they felt a weight, at which they were greatly delighted; and at
last, at ten fathoms more, they saw Don Quixote distinctly, and Sancho
called out to him, saying, "Welcome back, senor, for we had begun to
think you were going to stop there to found a family." But Don Quixote
answered not a word, and drawing him out entirely they perceived he had
his eyes shut and every appearance of being fast asleep.

They stretched him on the ground and untied him, but still he did not
awake; however, they rolled him back and forwards and shook and pulled
him about, so that after some time he came to himself, stretching himself
just as if he were waking up from a deep and sound sleep, and looking
about him he said, "God forgive you, friends; ye have taken me away from
the sweetest and most delightful existence and spectacle that ever human
being enjoyed or beheld. Now indeed do I know that all the pleasures of
this life pass away like a shadow and a dream, or fade like the flower of
the field. O ill-fated Montesinos! O sore-wounded Durandarte! O unhappy
Belerma! O tearful Guadiana, and ye O hapless daughters of Ruidera who
show in your waves the tears that flowed from your beauteous eyes!"

The cousin and Sancho Panza listened with deep attention to the words of
Don Quixote, who uttered them as though with immense pain he drew them up
from his very bowels. They begged of him to explain himself, and tell
them what he had seen in that hell down there.

"Hell do you call it?" said Don Quixote; "call it by no such name, for it
does not deserve it, as ye shall soon see."

He then begged them to give him something to eat, as he was very hungry.
They spread the cousin's sackcloth on the grass, and put the stores of
the alforjas into requisition, and all three sitting down lovingly and
sociably, they made a luncheon and a supper of it all in one; and when
the sackcloth was removed, Don Quixote of La Mancha said, "Let no one
rise, and attend to me, my sons, both of you."


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